Making it Monthly to Help Others When Times are Tough

By Sarah Lyon

When he picks up the phone for our interview, Chris Steeves is already emotional. He had just finished watching a video of celebrity Jon Stewart talking about the passing of his dog. “What he was saying was very real for me,” says Chris. “He talked about the love he had for his dog, and I connected thinking about my love for my furry creatures.”

Chris grew up with many pets. As a child, his house had cats, gerbils, hamsters and fish. But never a dog. His mother Patti was afraid of them, and so Chris also became scared of them.

“I consider my first pet to be the one that I got as an adult,” says Steeves. “And that happened 15 years ago after I bought my house.” One day Chris looked out to his backyard and saw the two cats that lived next door, only the residents had moved out and left the cats behind. “I tried to get a hold of them to let them know the cats were still here, but they didn’t want them.” It was clear to Chris that the cats were abandoned.

Chris called the SPCA and asked for help. Due to the busy summer season, the Dartmouth shelter needed to triage pets to prioritize sick and injured animals. “They gave me lots of ideas on how to help them, keep them safe,” says Chris. Soon, the SPCA took them in, gave them a clean bill of health, and called Chris to tell him that after one of them required neutering, they were both good to go home. “I had no intention of adopting two cats, but at that point, there was a bond, and the SPCA had been so helpful, that I went paid my adoption fees and picked them up.”

Katara sits on Chris’ desk during the interview, having been stuck like glue to him since he brought her home. Toph, the other adopted cat sadly passed away the year after he adopted them. Worried that Katara would feel lonely, Chris immediately went back to the SPCA to adopt another companion for Katara. A new kitten, Kira.

Chris and the cats became a blended family when he started dating his now fiancé, Cher. “She was the first to introduce me to the love of a dog.” Maya, a German shepherd-rottweiler mix, moved in and became Chris’ first dog. “She was so gentle with these two spoiled cats!”

Maya would soon become the first dog in the Steeves family. She was welcomed at gatherings and into his parents’ home. “She broke the stigma we had around dogs. Once my mom met her, she changed the way she viewed dogs.”

Unfortunately, Maya was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 2022. Then, six months later, Chris’ mom Patti would also lose her battle with cancer. “As you can imagine, our house was blue, that’s the best way I can describe it.” Cher, knowing how animals can help comfort, brought a new puppy into the house, Maybelline. “Bringing the puppy into the house lifted the cloud over us a little, and it’s hard not to when you have this companion who is giving you love.”

That companionship and comfort is what led Chris to become a monthly donor to the Nova Scotia SPCA. “The reason I give monthly is because I truly did not know just how important the companionship of an animal was, until I went through an extremely hard time. I give back because I hope that my gift will help someone else experience the joy of having an animal. I’m pretty happy about that.”

Chris calls Katara, Kira, and Maybelline his co-workers. Working from home, they seemed to have set up a routine around dad’s work. Walks in the morning, naps during work calls. Chris says that besides learning the love of a dog, he really didn’t understand how much activity having a dog would entail.

“It’s been great for my mental health, getting out every day to walk Maybelline and Kira.” Yep, when Kira started to realize that the dog got to go for walks, she wanted to go too. Now, as Maybelline gets her leash hooked on her collar, Kira pounces into the bubble backpack with air holes, and goes for a few laps around the neighbourhood.

Chris is now trying to convince his dad to come to the SPCA and adopt a dog, especially since his sister has also adopted one, turning the Steeves into a dog-friendly family. “It’s pretty obvious the impact a dog has had on our lives since my mom passed away, and I think more people could use that unconditional support, during good times and bad.”


For the entire month of March, our friends at CanadaHelps will add on an extra $20 donation for every new monthly gift of $20 or more when you sign up here: 

Some animals take months recovering in our care. You will provide loyal support that pets can count on.


Sarah Lyon

Sarah is the Director of Marketing and Communications with the Nova Scotia SPCA. At home, she parents rescue dog Mz. Roxy Roller and son Lochlan. Telling the stories of adopters, donors, and volunteers is what makes her tail wag. Connect with Sarah at or 902-229-8620 today.